My 13 Year Old Called Me Out on My Parenting, and It was Just What I Needed

Having a newborn means sleepless nights, round-the-clock feedings and worrying about why the baby is crying.  I wished that I could say to all new parents that it will get easier, but it doesn’t. Honestly, the newborn stage was the easy part for me. As my kids get older I continue to have restless nights worrying about them, and the round-the-clock feedings seem to continue as their growing bodies become tweens.  I struggle with how to approach sensitive topics that are affecting their daily lives and try my best not to make it awkward.  Parenting is HARD {I’m totally sorry for all the headache and heartache that I put my mother through while growing up}, and lately it seems that I have derailed a bit.  

My eldest is 13 years old going on thirty. She is self-driven, too smart for her own good, and a dang good sister to her four siblings.  She helped us through the newborn stage when we started fostering two years ago, and she is currently in the trenches with us as we go through the terrible twos with our youngest daughter.  She is a good kid and sometimes I forget how tuned-in she really is to the feelings of others. She can tell when something is awry no matter how well I think I am hiding it.

I came home from work late one night to find a three page letter written front and back in very fine print addressed to me {this brings back memories of the letters my mother used to write me when I was being a difficult teen}.  What did I do?  It was an eloquently and respectfully written letter from my 13 year old about my mothering skills lately {say what??!}. 

In the beginning

I used to believe that I was on top of my Super Mom game :: house was tidy, the kids brought lunches every day to school, and dinner was made every evening. I made it to just about every school function and there was a lot of structure at home :: homework immediately after school, no video games on school nights, eating at the supper table as a family, getting ready for bed by 8:30 and in bed by 9.  BOY, HAS THAT CHANGED!  I wished that I could pinpoint when it all got flipped upside down, but all I know is that I got tired. My family dealt with something very tough for about a year and half {out of respect for that family member I can’t reveal too much} and it took every ounce of energy in me to just make it through the day. I’m happy to say that we are past that now but I’m still just so TIRED all the time {mama needs her groove back}. 

Current situation

So my house is not in ship shape {I blame the toddler}, our Christmas tree was still up until about two weeks ago {I blame the husband}, we eat take-out more often than I like {I blame myself}, and I am slacking with the kids and their electronic time {whatever keeps them from being at each others throats}. I stopped stressing about dirty dishes in the sink. I had so many different schedules to keep up with that I didn’t get to make it to all of the school functions this year. I also worked long hours because we were short staffed at the bakery up until recently. I gained some weight from all the take-out and whatever energy that I had left I mustered up enough to play with my toddler.  Motherhood and life were simply kicking my butt.

From Super Mom to Bad Mom

In the letter, one of the things that my daughter pointed out was that I’m no longer consistent with my expectations of the kids.  She called me out on my empty threats, and how I’m not following through with their consequences. “Be more stern.” Who is this kid?  I thought I was doing them a solid by letting things slide while I regroup mentally. She talked about her concerns for the amount of video game time the boys were playing {thanks Fortnite} and how she didn’t like how it affected them.  “As their sister I can tell they get moody and cranky because of the video games.  They fight, rage and scream. And you do nothing about it.” At first I was angry and I couldn’t help channel my inner Asian mom {who happens to sound just like my mom}.  How dare you say that to me! Do I not feed you and provide a home for you to live in? Then I reread the letter again and I truly felt the worry and concern in her writing. I was being defensive and her words stung because they were true. She was calling me out on my own BS.

Reviving the Good Mom with help from my 13-year-old

  1. Bring back the cleaning system. Did I like it? Yes, I did. I feel that cleaning lately in exchange for time on electronics is not a good idea.  They go all butler-crazy to gain time and then the house gets messy again.” Butler-crazy is my new favorite made up word.  {I’m going to go all butler-crazy on this house!}  The following day after I read this letter I had the boys help me take the Christmas tree down.  This was just in time for Spring cleaning, I might add. Their rooms are clean and I can see the carpet once again.
  2. Implementing family game night every Friday.  “We can enjoy a tech free evening as a family. We can play board games or take an evening walk to the park like we used to. There are other fun things to do besides video games and we can bond as a family.” This is a fabulous idea to put all of those game boards to good use and the evening walks will help build up my endorphins which I really need.  
  3. Instead of cooking every day, aim to cook 3 meals a week.  Keep the meals simple with minimal preparation time so that it’s not overwhelming when I get home from work. I find it super helpful when it’s a meal that my husband can help start or take over if I’m feeling especially exhausted.
  4. Making sure that I don’t over-commit to too many things so that I have time to make it to my kids’ school functions.  Saying no has always been hard for me but my kids are so much more important.  I recently made it out to speak at their school for Career Day and seeing the joy on the boys’ faces was priceless. It was exactly what I needed to see to help me get my groove back.

While I can’t imagine returning back to Super Mom status any time soon, it feels good to get some things back into order.  This letter was my wake up call and I heard it loud and clear. I love it that my daughter was genuinely concerned and felt comfortable enough to communicate her feelings to me. Her brothers on the other hand weren’t too thrilled about her snitching on them. I’m trying my best to get back on track and with the help of my family, I know that all will be good again. Butler-crazy. Still my favorite word.  

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Christine was raised in Houston almost all her life, but currently resides in Sugar Land with her family. She graduated with a teaching degree from the University of Houston and taught elementary school for eight wonderful years.  She met her husband Martin while they both were teaching CCE at a local parish.  Together they have five beautiful children Madison {September 2005}, Caden {April 2007}, Cohen {April 2008}, Mason {August 2009}, and Anna-Marie {November 2016}.  Christine is also a self-taught baker, cake designer, and owner of The Sweet Boutique Bakery.  In 2016, her family felt a huge calling to open up their hearts and home to fostering babies.  When Christine isn’t juggling work, being an active school mom, or caring for her foster baby, you will find her creating DIY home projects, crafting, party planning, baking with her kids, and traveling with her family.  You can read more of her family shenanigans on The Sweet Boutique's Blog.


    • Why do tweens/teens need to be so opinionated?! Geesh…Can’t live with them and you can’t live without them. 🙂

  1. Christine, this is my favorite article from you! For one, it is comforting to know that other working mommas are slowly losing their mojo too. I’m tired ALL the time and I see the impact it is having on my kids. But it was also good to hear some real recommendations I can use to help get my groove back and my family back on track. Thank you for this and thank you to your 13 year old!

    • Montoya, I love following you and all of your family adventures! Thank you for saying that because you always look so good at the HMB events and you always have a beautiful smile. I would have never guessed that you too are feeling this way. I think we need to get together for a day of relaxation!

  2. Your girl is awesome! And she got it from her momma. Thank you for sharing this and reminding us all that we all fall into slumps, but that we can work our way back out of them. We’ve got this!


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